Timo Vollrath Background:
Timo has been at ECCO SHOES for nearly six years, and in that time has played an important part in what has been an influential period for the company.
The brand has gone from strength to strength over since 2017, and Vollrath is proud to have been part of what was a record year in 2022.
Timo Vollrath & ECCO GOLF Story:
I first joined the Golf Lab as Global Marketing Manager in October of 2017, having been Retail Marketing Manager for ECCO shoes for a year and a half prior. I’ve had a keen interest in golf for many, many years, and I actually first took up the game when I was 18.
It was brilliant for me to be able to work for ECCO GOLF’s global marketing team – having the opportunity to combine a passion with a career is undeniably a dream for so many people, and one that I’m delighted to have been able to achieve.
You wake up in the morning — what drives your passion?
The short answer, is a double espresso! But the longer answer is that I, alongside everyone at ECCO GOLF, have a genuine love for the game of golf.
No matter how busy or tough a day in of work might be, everything that I work on is related to the game of golf that we love so dearly, and that is what truly drives my passion.
I think the fact that we all share that same passion means that no day really feels like ‘work’ at ECCO GOLF – which makes the work itself so much easier.
People meet you for the first time — what one word best captures you?
Scandi-cool (I think!) – despite heralding from Germany, Denmark and Scandinavia have been an important part of my adult life. I can see Denmark from my house, and of course working for ECCO means that we work in Tonder, Denmark.
It’s been a big part of my life ever since I studied in Copenhagen, and working for a Danish company has definitely rubbed off on me.
What differentiates ECCO from a crowded field of other companies in the golf shoe category?
There’s a number of factors that set ECCO GOLF apart from the rest of the shoe category. Firstly, the business is family owned, and still guards that ‘family first’ mentality very closely. Furthermore, ECCO GOLF, and the wider ECCO brand are primarily shoe-only brands.
We specialize in shoes, it’s what made our name, and it’s absolutely what we are best at. There aren’t many shoe brands in golf who can profess to being a shoe-only company, and this actually means that we are able to be genuine leaders in innovation and technology.
The fact that we own the entire value chain, from design all the way through to leather tanning and shoe manufacturing, means that we can control the whole process in a more detailed and innovative way than any other brand.
What impact did the global pandemic have on overall sales at ECCO and what projections do you see happening in 2023?
Like so much of the golf industry, the pandemic had a positive impact for us as a brand. Not only was participation up in big markets, but people had more time to dedicate to golf, and sometimes more expendable income.
2022 was an all-time record year for us as a brand, driven by the passionate global team that we have at ECCO GOLF.
We focused on “making great things even better” for the new SS23 collection, and updated more or less every style in our collection, but have kept major innovations up our sleeves to give consumers and customers “room to breathe”.
Many companies producing golf shoes today seem to concentrate on either the form or fashion side of the aisle. How does ECCO attempt to blend both together?
We really believe it is a combination of both. We don’t see our golf shoes as purely golf shoes – they are shoes that can be worn anytime, anywhere.
There can be no compromise on performance (grip, comfort, waterproofing etc) of course, but our shoes are also fashion pieces. This applies to both our men’s and women’s collections, but particularly on the women’s side, our shoes need to match outfits and be stylish.
Do endorsements from high profile players, on the men’s and women’ side, still resonate with consumers?
There are two sides to this question. Firstly, you need to put your shoes on show, and using players can be a great way to get your shoes seen by the wider golfing community – however, you cannot rely on those players winning and performing well, so it certainly more of a risk.
The other side to this question is influencers and social media. Social media ambassadors can be more powerful than tour players, if used in the right way. We have a great example of a hugely successful ambassador partnership in Rick Shiels, who has genuinely transformed our social media presence.
Many companies tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach followed at ECCO GOLF.
ECCO GOLF treats every customer service enquiry with due care and attention, with teams on hand to deal with customer care at a local level in each region in which we operate. We know the importance of brand trust, which is why we ensure that every customer service matter is dealt with in a prompt, courteous and fair manner.
What specific role does customer feedback have on ECCO future shoe designs and can you itemize one specific feedback that did just that?
This is quite a nuanced question, obviously we highly value customer and consumer feedback – especially when it comes to touch points regarding shoe durability and wear points, however when it comes to shoe designs, it is our job to strike a balance between providing consumers with a shoe we know they will love and providing them with something new that they will be excited by.
If you knew exactly what each brand was going to design for next year, wouldn’t that get boring?
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally – what would it be and why?
For me personally, I would ban drivers that can hit pull hooks!
In the wider game, I believe we need to make it more accessible to more people. The more accessible the game is, the easier it will be to learn and to pick up.
How we do that is a really difficult question to answer, but finding a way to make the game more fun when you first pick up a golf club is paramount – we think that our golf shoes are the first step towards that; they are comfortable and multi-purpose, and we see them as something of an invitation into the game!
Best advice you ever received. What was it and who was it from?
One of my best friends once told me: “Perception is reality” and I think this applies really well to business and life.
People perceive things differently and so not always have the “same reality”- it is important to be open-minded for other people’s realities.
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